Cliff Lee, Phils rotation struggling since Roy Halladay's injury

Phils ace is pitching like anything but lately.

It's OK to be disappointed in Cliff Lee.

Even being flat-out ticked off is fair.

The $120 million-dollar man has not done his part.

You might be tempted to argue that the offense is to blame for him having gone this long without getting a win.

That issue has since come and gone.

After posting a 2.92 ERA in his first nine starts, Lee is 0-4 with a 7.30 ERA (24 2/3 IP, 20 ER) and an opponents batting average of .337 in his last four outings.

He's given up four or more earned runs in each of his last four starts, and three times in that stretch he's given up at least five.

Even when things went south for Lee last July (4.91 ERA, .287 BAA), he wasn't handing out free passes as frequently (he walked only five in 33.0 innings pitched in July 2011). Over his last four starts, he's walked more (8) in fewer innings pitched (24 2/3 IP).

This is hardly the markings of a pitcher making $21.5 million this year.

But then again, should we really be that surprised?

Lee has a history of rough stretches.

In a string of five starts from Aug. 11-31, 2010, Lee was 0-3 with an 8.28 ERA (27 ER, 29.1 IP).

During five starts last July, he was 2-3 with a 4.91 ERA (18 ER, 33.0 IP) with an opponents batting average of .287.

This stretch, however, has lasted three months.

The key now will be whether he can get back on track. He doesn't have to be the guy who won five consecutive games last July, three of which were complete-game shutouts (0.21 ERA, 0.69 WHIP).

Outings in which he goes at least seven innings, walks only one or two and posts an ERA in the 3.00 to 3.50 would suffice.

Right now, though, his season ERA is 4.13, the highest it's been this late in a season since 2007. Things went so awry for him that year he wound up in Triple-A for a month and ended his big league campaign with a 6.29 ERA.

Concerns also lie with his frame of mind right now.

"When I talk to him, he seems fine," Manuel told writers in Florida on Friday night.

Maybe that's part of the problem.

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